The multi-talented Lady Leshurr: “I want to shift the culture or make history”

We chat to the rapper about her team-up with Sky Mobile, becoming Olay's first Black ambassador – and why she still hasn't released a debut album

Proving she’s a true Queen, Birmingham’s quick-witted superstar Lady Leshurr has come a long way from she began release her blistering ‘Queen’s Speech’ rap videos on YouTube in 2016. Now the once-rising grime star is a household name, popping up as a guest, contestant or even a team captain on some of your favourite TV shows. She has also become quite the DJ on BBC 1Xtra, showing off her encyclopaedic knowledge of the world she loves – hip-hop.

And with that hip-hop knowledge of hers, Leshurr has teamed up with Sky Mobile to create a nostalgic music video for her latest single ‘Time to 65075’, a track all about leaving your mobile provider like a begrudging ex. Life has definitely changed for Lady Leshurr since she grace the cover of NME in 2016, and we caught up with the 32-year-old – who, amazingly, still hasn’t released a debut album despite being all over your telly – to find out why she is truly in her own lane.

Why did you team up with Sky Mobile for a single about leaving your mobile provider just like you would a dodgy ex?

“Firstly, don’t you think that’s an amazing idea? And the perfect person for the job is me. That’s how I delivered my ‘Queen’s Speeches’, and I have that quirky, cheeky behaviour. It was great working with Sky to make the new break up track to get you out of a bad relationship whilst recreating iconic music videos. I just thought it was just a sick idea.”

You have came quite a long way from your early grime days…

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“I think I have definitely evolved from then. One thing I have realised is growth. When you get older, your choices change and what you want to do changes because life happens. You go through the world and choose different things to do and I think that’s where I’m at in my life. I’ve always been more than just a grime MC, and it’s taken time for people to understand that I’ve got that personality, and I think I got that through with ‘Queen’s Speech’. I wanted people to know that I’m a funny person but when I dropped her [2015 mixtape] ‘Lil Bit of Lesh’, everyone got to see the fierce side of me. So I’m always trying to show myself in different ways, in different industries.”

You’re quite the satirical rapper…

“I don’t know why. First of all, I’m from Brum – we have a different sort of humour in how we word things, so we can be quite forward. I think that can be why I am what I am when it comes to my music. But, in general, it’s a nice way to be positive on bad things, and I don’t take things seriously. Like someone on Twitter was being rude like, ‘She’s rubbish – she’s this, she’s that”, and I replied, “How have you woken up and you ain’t even brushed your teeth?”. And that legitimately started ‘Queen’s Speech 4’ [from 2016]. I don’t choose to look at the negative, because I can be a troll too.”

Is rapping no longer number one thing for you?

“Considering what I’ve been through with the tragic death of my sister [Carmen, who unfortunately passed away with cancer at the age of 39 in 2019], it has obviously done a lot to me. And if I’m hurting, I can’t do anything from my heart. I’m not going to be my full quirky self, so I’m trying to reset so I can come back again. That’s why I’m working in TV because it’s one of the only things to bring me out of the dumps.

“I can forget on TV because I’m always laughing and [ITV2 rap panel game show that Leshurr is a team captain on] Don’t Hate The Playaz is a great example of that. At the moment, so much has happened to me in music that it’s no longer my passion anymore. You can’t expect someone who has been doing music as long as me to still be creating all the time. I’m just learning about my life at the moment.’

But being a DJ on Radio 1Xtra is a good way to get around your musical rut…

“Yeah, I know that I love music through and through, whether that’s a grime track, reggae track or a hip-hop track. I’m going to be vibing and making melodies up in my head, so I still love music. I just can’t express right now in a way you need to make music. I need to put my heart in it, 100 per cent. But playing music, supporting new talent, and getting cool people on the show; I love all that. That’s sick for me to have that type of control on such a huge platform.

“I’ve just matured. I’ve grown up. I’ve moved on from thinking about making music and am now thinking about having land and investing in property. It just comes with growth.”

And have you enjoyed becoming quite the media personality?

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“I’m so happy doing TV stuff and I’m so happy doing everything from the heart. The two people that inspire me when it comes to what I do in TV are Big Narstie and Big Zuu. Obviously they have ‘Big’ in their names, but they’re big in TV now. Zuu has his own cooking book out ad his TV show on [the TV channel] Dave. I’ve just watched them become these stars but also still be themselves. And I always want to keep integrity in everything I do and I want to shift the culture or make history.

“So when I worked with [beauty brand] Olay, that was a big thing. People didn’t even understand why I did that advert but I wanted to bring awareness to black people , being the first black face of Olay, from the grime scene, it’s crazy.”

How does it feel to become quite the household name?

“I was looking at [a video of herself being on stage with Nicki Minaj in 2018 for the latter’s NickiWrld UK tour] today and I just forgot – because I was in the moment – I did it and I was watching it back like it wasn’t me. Imagine being in that crowd; they must have been going crazy.

“It’s always a blessing and an honour to be called that because although I have done so much, I have also done so little. I have still never released an album. I’ve toured and stuff, done adverts, but as far as being a musician and producing a big body of work, I haven’t done that yet. So to still be around after two decades and still be relevant is a blessing. I don’t know why this is all happening to me!”

What’s next for Lady Leshurr?

“I want my own TV show. I grew up on Little Britain and Three Non-Blondes, so I want my own little sketch show. And then I would want to get into property. I have a book that I’m writing. There’s a lot I want to do but it all takes time. I am setting up my own record label very shortly as well. I’ve just become a business now. I am a businesswoman, so I want to make sure everything runs like a machine.”

– Lady Leshurr has teamed up with Sky Mobile to drop ‘Time to 65075’, a break-up banger to inspire the nation get out of bad relationships.

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